Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 June 2019:
Supporters and well-wishers of the National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) have questioned the rationale behind the decision of the party to boycott elections held in Sierra Leone, after failing to make significant impression at the March 2018 general and presidential elections, which saw the party winning only 7% of votes.
NGC party bosses said they had decided to boycott all subsequent elections in protest at what they regarded as electoral fraud committed by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), robbing the party of hundreds of thousands of votes across the country.
But many of the NGC party grassroot supporters say that the decision to boycott all subsequent elections have dealt a severe blow to their party’s credibility and electoral appeal.
Today, It seems that NGC party bosses have listened to those concerns, and have responded with a statement saying that the party will now end its boycott.
This is what Dr Dennis Bright – the chairman of the party, said in his statement issued yesterday:
The National Grand Coalition (NGC) would like to inform the general public that following consultations with its membership across the country and the diaspora, the party has decided to review its position on participation in bye-elections in the country.
It will be recalled that the NGC suspended its participation in elections due to the blatant irregularities that occurred during the Tonko Limba Bye elections in which the National Electoral Commission at its highest level displayed stark incompetence in the conduct of the election to the extent that, contrary to electoral rules and procedure, the results were announced by the Chief Electoral Commissioner without even completing the public tallying process.
Furthermore, the NGC stated its unwillingness to contest further elections if the current leadership of NEC does not resign. It is obvious that such honourable acts are not within the moral compass of the leadership as business has continued at NEC as usual.
However, the NGC notes that a committee has been set up to steer implementation of the recommendations of the 2018 Elections Observer Missions (EOM) in which a significant number of reforms pertaining to electoral laws and practices are proposed.
The NGC is a member of that committee and will use that opportunity to press for those reforms at NEC and in the laws that will prevent a recurrence of the Tonko Limba Bye Election disaster.
Therefore the general membership is of the view that the party should resume participation in the electoral process not only for them to exercise their franchise but to further acquaint itself with all the flaws in the system that must be eradicated and brought up for consideration at the EOM recommendations implementation committee.
Based on experience, the NGC is returning wiser and bolder and will not be ready to accept blatant malpractices such as those perpetrated in Tonko Limba.
We still believe in the spirit and letter of the countless Memoranda for Peaceful and Non-violent conduct that have been signed with the police, NEC and PPRC and do not expect institutions such as NEC to destroy the Democracy on which the future of our nation depends.
Consequently, it is hereby announced that the NGC will be contesting the Parliamentary Bye Elections in Constituency 110 slated for 24th August 2019 in the Western Area Rural District and Constituency 043 in the Koinadugu District on 21st September 2019.
Our membership is therefore informed that the first public engagement in this regard will be the nomination of Ibrahim Kabba a.k.a. Small Borbor on Thursday 27th June 2019 at the NEC District Office, Chukuma Johnson Drive, Waterloo. (End of statement).
It remains to be seen whether by ending its boycott, the NGC party can regain its momentum, and begin to build its political base across the country, so as to achieve electoral gains beyond its Kambia stronghold, where all four of its elected members of parliament are clustered.
(Photo: NGC Parliamentary leader and co-founder – Dr Kandeh Yumkella, on whose shoulders the task of driving the party forward, rests).
The NGC will need to formulate a new National Political Development and Campaign Strategy, as well as look beyond its membership to raise millions of dollars, if it is to make a significant impact at the 2023 elections.
NGC is far from being a government in waiting. Relying on the possibility of the ruling SLPP messing up in governance to then pick up the reigns, is unrealistic.
NGC needs to build its electoral appeal from the bottom up. And each election boycotted, makes that work all the more difficult and harder for the party to build credibility, trust and voter appeal.